Hummer driver faces intoxication manslaughter charge in SH 45 crash

Travis County

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — A woman faces an intoxication manslaughter charge after Pflugerville police say she hit and killed a man whose car had stalled on the side of the road early Sunday morning.

An officer arrived to the scene in the 4800 block of State Highway 45 East, which is near North Heatherwilde Boulevard, around 2 a.m. The officer saw an unconscious man lying in the middle of the road. That man, who police identified as  36-year-old Donald Alan Waller, later died, police said.

A woman, later identified as 50-year-old Dawn Witt Denny of Dripping Springs, told the officer she was driving her Hummer and hit the other vehicle, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

“Marks on the roadway indicated that Denny’s vehicle left the roadway prior to striking another vehicle,” the arrest warrant said. “Denny stated she was looking at her cell phone GPS and when she looked up she collided into the vehicle.”

Denny also told officers she had taken Xanax and another prescription medication about an hour before the collision. The officer at the scene reported smelling a “moderate” odor of alcohol and said Denny did not participate in all field sobriety tests, according to the affidavit.

“I never want to villainize or demonize anybody, but temporary decisions sometimes have permanent consequences,” said Waller’s sister, Eninja Jackson. 

Police say Waller was out tending to his broken down vehicle before the crash happened.

Jackson says he had trouble with his gas gauge reading incorrectly. She says sometimes, it wouldn’t show that he was low on gas, and his tank would run out. She says when his car stalled that night, he texted his friend saying he needed gas, then got out to grab the spare gas can he kept in his trunk. Jackson says he was near his trunk when he was hit.

Jackson says just hours before he was killed, Waller had celebrated his daughter’s seventh birthday.

“The taking of my brother was also the taking of a dad to his only child, who will now forever have to live with, ‘My birthday is also the day my daddy left this earth,'” Jackson said. “How do we handle that as a family? How do every year we look at her every year and say, ‘Let’s celebrate’?”

Denny is in the Travis County Jail as of Monday, according to records. Her bond is set at $250,000 and she must install an ignition interlock device in her vehicle as a condition of bail.

Denny worked at KXAN as a reporter for a 10-month period in 2013-2014.

Jackson describes her brother as a lifelong Austinite, who was well-known and loved in the community. He ran an entertainment company that worked with local musicians.

Waller’s family is holding a fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 14 to help pay for his funeral expenses. They’ll be selling barbecue plates from 1-6 p.m. at Spinners Bar and Grill at 14106 N. Interstate 35 in Austin.

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